May 16 ballot includes school bus purchase proposition

A proposition on this year’s school budget and board of education election ballot will ask voters to authorize the purchase of six school buses as part of the district’s long-term replacement plan.

The buses include five 71-passenger buses and one wheelchair accessible 56-passenger bus. The total purchase would not exceed $1,182,121. This proposition is not in addition to the proposed budget, as the financing is already factored in.

If voters approve the proposition, the state would reimburse the district over a five-year period for 75.7% of the cost. Local property taxes would pay the remainder of the cost, which means residents would be responsible for $57,451 annually for five years beginning in the 2024-25 school year. 

F-M normally replaces its buses after 10 years, when it is no longer cost effective to make the repairs needed to meet state inspection standards. Maintaining an aging school bus presents potential safety, maintenance and financial issues for the school district. The replacement plan helps maintain a safe and efficient bus fleet. All school buses in New York State are subject to inspection by the New York State Department of Transportation. If a bus does not pass inspection, it cannot be used and the defect must be repaired or the bus replaced.

New York State Law requires school districts to purchase at least one electric bus by the year 2027; the entire fleet must be electric by 2035. Because the average bus lasts 10 years, the buses included in this proposition will complete a useful lifespan before the district is required to fully transition to a zero-emission fleet. 

The district’s student transportation fleet currently includes 65 school buses and three Suburbans.